Investigative Beat Reporter
The UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships (OF&S) has partnered with CampusLogic Inc., to use its ScholarshipUniverse service, a browser-based scholarship tool currently surveying more than 11,000 scholarships. The application will allow students to aggregate scholarships by their chosen filters or a personally recommended list of scholarships.
Jessica Trumble, scholarship and donations manager for UCSB’s OF&S, worked to implement the application and has since been personalizing it along with a supporting team for the campus community. Trumble said the initial groundwork for bringing the service on campus began before her hiring in May 2019. The scholarship process is hoping to be managed, streamlined, and vetted before students begin engaging with the app.
The long-term goal for Trumble “is to have all scholarships that are offered on campus be offered through this tool. But that’s a big project,” she said in an interview with The Bottom Line. “We’re going to launch using it ourselves to sort of demonstrate it and offer it to other departments or other resources and institutions on campus moving forward.”
The other on-campus agencies that have been involved with the process along with OF&S are Student Information Systems & Technology, the Office of Admissions, and the Office of the Registrar.
Hanna Wong, the financial aid advisor from the OF&S, presented some information on the program in a small meeting of faculty last month.
“Personally, I feel like ScholarshipUniverse will be a great resource for students once it is operational, and it’s something I wish had been available when I was a student,” Wong said.
The connection of students to money from within or outside their school, referred to as “internal” or “external” dollars, is the most significant convenience of this awards management tool, but there are other smaller benefits. Students will be able to view scholarships granted to them automatically by the university, making information that is usually found in a student’s award letter more readily available.
Every department using the platform hopes that it will provide another level of transparency for all the on-campus grants that aren’t automatically pooled and distributed to students. The filters within the app such as award amount, degree of difficulty, GPA, etc., are all efforts done from the overall desire of the office for “students to have more agency, better access, more effective resources, and also increase transparency,” Trumble said.
According to the company’s website, the ScholarshipUniverse program is being offered in nearly 500 higher education institutions; the preceding preview and product page highlight areas that the company believes will pique institutions’ interest. The preview section says the program will reach more students to more external scholarships, most importantly “reducing reliance on institutional funds.”
The following page highlights two of three areas meant to entice institutions with helpful reminders like “a scholarship of as little as $500 can be the difference between a student choosing your school over your competitors,” hinting at the institution’s larger priority of increasing attendance.
The ScholarshipUniverse service of CampusLogic is the second program in use by UCSB, the first being StudentForms, allows for the use of a secured single sign-in for all of the university’s financial aid documents. A “Success Story” focusing on UCSB, published by CampusLogic, says a significantly bad financial aid delay in the fall of 2016 led Mike Miller, now UCSB’s assistant vice chancellor for enrollment services, to coordinate with the university to implement the StudentForms program the following fall.
At the end of the article, Miller states, “This was the fastest implementation in our school’s history, we stepped forward 15 years almost overnight … I really think this will be one of the best I.T. investments we will ever make.”
The interconnectedness between ScholarshipUniverse and StudentForms makes for an easy transition because student digital information will not need to be moved from the main platform to another new service.
If ScholarshipUniverse is successful, it can offer numerous benefits to students as they try to find ways to pay for their degrees. However, it is hard to ignore just how aware CampusLogic and UCSB are to the business and financial incentives they seek to gain from its implementation.